Out of the Office: Finding inspiration over the hill

I’m standing atop a newly discovered snow mound, a sense of triumph installed in me. I feel the soft crunch of my boot molding the soft powder beneath me as I set my feet. Clambering up the almost 6-foot culmination of snow has taken a moderate toll. My nose and cheeks are rose-tinged from fighting the crisp winter air — my gloves, jacket and boots smothered in snow. It seems counterproductive to ignore the frost at this point. I plop down to get a more comfortable seat, surveying the landscape before me. The snow poofs up around me as I settle into my perch.

The mound stands at the top of a massive hill, left to the road leading up from the public road. This property is far from the main roads, a winding and lurching path stemming off from the main North Fork. It descends deep into the hills and valleys of Anchor Point, just a couple miles obtuse of Nikolaevsk.

The area is becoming harder and harder to reach, with the main road becoming more decrepit by the year. The river runs right under a bridge on the main road and it flooded years ago, leaving just one winding path back up to the land. The land is a familiar one, however; it’s my parents’ property, something they have held onto since before I was born. The untenable road along with an unfortunate house fire made it much harder to live there; now the property remains as a testament to their loyalty to the area.

Even after over almost 20 years of taking it in, I can scarcely believe the view before my eyes. “This must be what renowned explorers of old like Captain Cook must have felt when they found new land,” I thought with a smirk. It hardly seems probable that seeing that view for the umpteenth time would inspire that reaction. But much akin to Tom Brady from 2001 to 2022, and Paul Rudd for seemingly forever — it simply doesn’t get old. The view only becomes more beautiful with the fading sun, the marmalade-marked sunset clashing against the indigo-clast sky. Mount Saint Augustine looms on the horizon, its dark silhouette outlining the crimson hue swirling in against its caliginous backdrop.

I hope to see some animals rummage and emerge through the underbrush at some point. I grew up on this land, and seeing the cacophony of creatures that would odyssey through would always captivate my imagination. Venturing through the wild and appearing in our backyard raised a lot of questions: Where did they come from? Where are they headed?

The crafty ermine, hustling for food and searching for shelter. The mother moose, leading her calves through dozens of elders in hope of just a couple green leaves. Or even the beguiling bear, venturing out of its wintry hibernation. No bears this time of year of course, yet living up there meant any bump in the night, or wind whisking at the windows, could indicate something was out and about. It would give our old husky fits, snarling through the night as he warded off — in his eyes — countless threats. Predicting which animal would eventually rear its head next was as impossible as it was exciting.

Nothing shows. Even as I stare hoping at the treeline, no wild animal breaks my concentration. I hardly expected to see something so convenient like that, but I was disappointed all the same.

My older brother interrupts my expecting gaze with a shout to leave. I stare until my brother calls me again, me still waiting for something. It doesn’t come. I’ll look again next time.